Thursday, November 15, 2007

Hikoi ... #175

Following the arrival of the hikoi, about 400 mainly Maori protesters gathered at Parliament before marching down Lambton Quay to the Te Puni Kokiri offices where a haka was performed.
The crowd was calm and peaceful and there was a low-key police presence. The protesters - awash with flags and placards, some reading "stop racism" - then reassembled at Midland Park before returning to Parliament, where fireworks were let off.

A number of MPs spoke at the hikoi including Taito Phillip Field, Pita Sharples, Keith Locke and Labour's Parekura Horomia and Nanaia Mahuta. The two Labour MPs were booed by the crowd while embattled MP Taito Phillip Field was cheered after he told those in attendance he did not believe Tuhoe residents had been treated well.

The hikoi began last week in Ruatoki, Bay of Plenty, where police conducted their raids on "terror" suspects. But the protesters are a day too late to stop the Suppression of Terrorism Amendment Act, which passed its third reading by 108 votes to 13 late yesterday. Labour and National supported the legislation, while the Greens, ACT and the Maori Party opposed it.

The new law extends the power of the United Nations to designate terrorist entities that will also apply in New Zealand. It creates a new offence of committing a terrorist act, which is punishable by life in prison.
It also removes a defence of funding a terrorist entity if the donor was motivated by human rights or democratic concerns. After terrorism charges were rejected by Solicitor-General David Collins last week, the Government said it would ask the Law Commission to review the Arms Act and the Crimes Act as well to consider whether the police should have wider powers of interception to prosecute cases of alleged domestic terrorism, rather than rewrite the Terrorism Suppression Act.

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